Merry Christmas from the staff at
Plains Cotton Growers, Inc.

Obama Selects Tom Vilsack For Secretary
of Agriculture and Ron Kirk For USTR Post

Friday, December 19, 2008                       By Shawn Wade

      President-elect Barack Obama filled two positions of particular importance to the U.S. cotton industry this week.

      The first was the announcement that former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack had been selected to fill the role of Secretary of Agriculture. The second announcement made earlier today, was the choice of former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk to fill the post of United States Trade Representative. Both appointments are of critical interest to the cotton industry according to PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett.

      "Governor Vilsack appears to bring a good understanding of production agriculture from his home state of Iowa and we look forward to working closely with him to broaden his knowledge of cotton and the cotton industry," says Verett.

      The breadth of USDA's responsibilities and are truly staggering and one of the new Secretary's biggest challenges will be learning about the differences between agriculture in his home state and agriculture in other parts of the United States.

      Obama's selection of former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk to be the U.S. Trade Representative should bring a different focus to future U.S. trade discussions.

      Kirk is a long-time free trade proponent that brings a unique set of experiences to the job. In addition to being a former mayor Kirk was also an aide to former Texas Senator and Clinton-administration Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen.

      "We certainly hope that Mr. Kirk's past experiences will allow him to bring a renewed focus on getting a fair deal for U.S. agriculture within the structure of the WTO," states Verett. "Hopefully he can bring his accumulated knowledge of agriculture and its importance to the U.S economy to bear to cut through the false rhetoric and misinformation that has driven most of the Doha discussion."

      Time will judge what impact these two key additions to the Obama leadership team will have on agriculture in general and on High Plains cotton producers in particular. PCG will work closely with both Vilsack and Kirk to complete their understanding of the cotton industry's needs and priorities.


TASS Working To Gather Final
2008 Upland Cotton Production Numbers

Friday, December 19, 2008                       By Shawn Wade

      Statisticians with the Texas Agricultural Statistics Service are working to gather cotton ginnings data for inclusion in the Final Cotton Ginnings Report for the 2008 crop year.

      The final report is used for much more than just totaling the amount of cotton ginned in Texas counties each year. The information provided by gins to TASS representatives is also used to determine and verify county level cotton production for the state.

      TASS depends greatly on the cooperation of Texas cotton gins to report the most accurate information possible on the cotton they ginned during the season. All data collected by TASS is kept strictly confidential and reports are aggregated to avoid disclosure of individual gin and producer data.

      When submitting final ginning data, gins are encouraged to be as accurate as possible and to specify the total number of bales ginned as well as the county and state in which the bales were grown.


2009 Beltwide Just Around The Corner

      The 2009 Beltwide Cotton Conference is near and growers are encouraged to mark their calendars and make plans to be there. This year's Beltwide Conferences will be held January 5-8 at the Marriott Rivercenter/Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas.

      Full conference information including preliminary program details, housing information, continuing education unit offerings and information about spouse programs and tours is available at

      A downloadable PDF version of the final 2009 Beltwide Cotton Conferences' program is scheduled to be available at the BWCC website on December 1. A printed program will be made available at the meetings, which promise to offer a wealth of information at a location enjoyable for the entire family.


Nationwide Survey to Focus on Irrigation
and Augment 2007 Census of Agriculture Data

     Water is the source of life and the U.S. agricultural industry depends upon this precious resource to meet the world's growing need for food, feed, fiber and fuel. U.S. agricultural producers will soon have the opportunity to speak out about their water use when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) conducts the Farm and Ranch Irrigation Survey.

      "By providing a single source of comprehensive, up-to-date information on irrigation and water use across the agricultural industry, this survey will aid in efforts to promote efficient irrigation practices and ensure the long-term sustainability of our nation's water resources," said Carol House, deputy administrator of USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

      The irrigation survey, which is a supplement to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, will for the first time include a focus on nursery and horticultural operations. NASS will collect information about irrigation water use during 2008, including application methods, equipment, facilities, expenditures, crop acreage and yield.

      This information is used by industry, government, and producers themselves, aiding in the development of improved technology, better equipment, more efficient water use practices, and sound programs and policies.

      "The nation's agricultural producers are the first and best stewards of our land and water resources," House said. "This survey provides them with a voice to help shape the future of their industry and demonstrate their commitment to the conservation and efficient use of water resources."

      On Jan. 12, 2009, NASS will mail the irrigation survey to 35,000 producers nationwide. Recipients are required to complete and return their forms by Feb. 17, 2009. As is the case with all NASS surveys, information provided by respondents is protected by law. NASS safeguards the confidentiality of all responses, ensuring that no individual producer or operation can be identified.

      "As we did with the Census of Agriculture, we are reminding producers that the Farm and Ranch Irrigation Survey is their voice, their future and their responsibility," House said.

      For more information about the Farm and Ranch Irrigation Survey, call (800) 727-9540 or visit


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2008 High Plains Cotton Quality Summary

      The following is a summary of the cotton classed at the Lubbock and Lamesa USDA Cotton Division Cotton Classing Offices for the 2008 production season.


Current Week:









21+ - 46.3%

31 - 47.2%





21 + - 34.7%

31 – 49.3%




















Season Totals To Date:









21+ - 53.6%

31 - 40.1%





21+ - 38.6%

31 – 45.1%